Research Grant FAQ

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Q: Who is eligible to apply for AACN grants?
A: Current AACN members are eligible to apply for grants with these exceptions:

  • Principal investigators who have previously received funding from AACN cannot receive additional funding during the lifetime of their original award (defined as enrollment of the first subject to completion of data analyses and preparation of abstract for presentation or publication of study findings).
  • Members of the AACN Research Grant Review Panel are ineligible during their term of review.
  • Principal investigators must have earned at least a master's degree or advanced to candidacy in a BSN-to-PhD or DNP.
  • If you are a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, you need not hold AACN membership to apply for the AACN-STTI Critical Care Grant (indicate your STTI membership number and expiration date on your grant application).
  • Members of the AACN Board of Directors and AACN Certification Corporation Board of Directors, who also cannot serve as consultants on a grant during their term of office, are ineligible.

Q: May two researchers from the same institution apply for AACN grants?
A: If they are different studies, then each should apply separately. If it’s the same study, they should apply together as co-investigators.

Q: What is the deadline to apply for a grant?
A: All applications are due by 5 p.m. (Pacific time) on October 31, the submission portal will close at that time. No submissions will be accepted after the portal closes.

Q: May I apply for more than one grant? 
A: No.

Q: When will applicants know if they have been selected to receive a grant?
A: Successful applicants will be notified by about Feb 15.

Q: What is the difference between allowable direct costs and allowable indirect (facilities and administrative) costs?
A: Direct costs can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity or any other institutional activity, or can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy.

Indirect (or facilities and administrative, F&A) costs are incurred by a grantee for common or joint objectives and, therefore, cannot be identified specifically with a particular project or program.

  • The total costs requested in your budget will include allowable direct costs (related to the performance of the grant) plus allowable indirect (F&A) costs.
  • Indirect (F&A) costs are determined by applying your organization’s negotiated F&A rate to your direct cost base.
    • Most educational, hospital or nonprofit organizations have negotiated their rates with other Federal (cognizant) agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services or the Office of Naval Research.
    • If you are a for-profit organization, the F&A costs are negotiated by the Division of Cost Allocation (DCA), Division of Financial Advisory Services (DFAS) in the Office of Acquisition Management and Policy, NIH.
  • For most institutions the negotiated F&A rate will use a modified total direct cost (MTDC) base, which excludes items such as equipment, student tuition, research patient care costs and rent.
    • Check with your sponsored programs office to find out your negotiated MTDC base.

Q: Is there a limit on indirect costs?
A: Yes. Indirect costs are limited to 10% of direct costs. Indirect costs must be included in your total proposed budget, which must be within the available limit of the grant.

Q: Is it permitted to use grant funds for salaries? 
A: No. Grant funds may not be used to pay any portion of the principal investigator’s salary.

Q: Is it permitted to use grant funds to pay for the research assistants?
A: Grant funds may be used to support the work of the research assistants (data collection, for example) provided the accounting is done on a cost-per-hour basis and not as a percentage of salary. Calculate the number of hours needed for the work and multiply that figure by the hourly rate to arrive at the cost of the research assistants.

Q: Is it permitted to use grant funds to pay for consultants?
A: Grant funds may be used to support the work of consultants, such as those who are engaged for the development of research tools and analysis of data. Account for such expense on a cost-per-hour or per-project basis.

Q: To whom should the cover letter be addressed? 
A: Address the cover letter to the AACN Research Grant Review Panel.

Q: How should letters of support be addressed?
A: Address letters of support to the AACN Research Grant Review Panel.

Q: Will one support letter suffice if it’s from an advisor who can also address ability to complete the work? 
A: Most applications include at least two letters of support. However, one letter is adequate provided its content includes all the requirements and the reviewers can clearly see that. The two letters are meant to show 1) the applicant has the academic preparation to complete the work, usually written by the faculty advisor, and 2) there is enough history of perseverance to complete the work; such a letter is usually written by someone (nonfamily) who has known the applicant over time.

Q: How are grant funds paid?
A: Grant funds will be paid according to the preference of the principal investigator — either to the PI’s institution or directly to the PI as an individual, in which case AACN will require a W-9 Form and will issue an IRS Form 1099 to the PI at the end of the year.

Q: How long is the period of the grant?
A: The period of the grant is two years from the date of funding, unless an extension is requested in writing by the grantee and approved by AACN.

Q: What happens to the grant money when the principal investigator transfers to another institution during the term of the grant?
A: If the original organization can provide documentation that another person there is qualified to complete the research, the funds would stay. However, if no appropriate researcher can complete the study, the funds would be transferred to the PI’s new institution.

Q: Is someone without a master’s degree, such as an enrollee in a BSN-to-PhD or DNP program, eligible to submit a grant application as the principal investigator?
A: Enrollees in BSN-to-PhD or DNP programs are eligible provided they have advanced to doctoral candidacy and have included such documentation in their submitted materials.

Q: What if I cannot get ethical review completed before the grant submission deadline?
A: If evidence of ethical review and approval are not included in your grant application materials, please indicate if the review is in progress and when it will be completed. If your institution does not conduct ethical review until a study is accepted for funding, so indicate. Evidence of ethical review and approval must be submitted to AACN before any funds can be released. If your study is exempt from ethical review, simply indicate that in your materials.

Q: For the AACN-Sigma Theta Tau Critical Care Grant, is the mentor experienced in the area of the research required to be a nurse?
A: Yes.

Q: Principal investigators are expected to present a poster or an oral session of their study findings at the AACN National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition that occurs two years following the funding decision. What if I encounter delays?
A: If your study is completed by Sept 1, you can be accommodated in the NTI program schedule for the following May. If you are later than that we will work with you on an individual basis. Do not submit through the regular abstract review process for an NTI presentation. Contact AACN staff directly.